Terrelle Pryor Sr. leaned against a pillar in the Washington Redskins' locker room at FedEx Field and kept it real after his disappointing debut as his team's leading wide receiver.
"I'm just shooting myself in the foot right now," he said. "For dropping that ball. I'm pissed right now. I put this game totally on myself."
Pryor — signed this offseason to help replace the more than 2,000 receiving yards lost when management let Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson walk in free agency — could have been talking about a number of drops and missed opportunities in Sunday's 30-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
But Pryor spoke of the drop that came at the most critical point of the game. With his team trailing 19-17 with 6:43 left on the game clock and needing a 99-yard drive to score a go-ahead touchdown — or at least a 66-yard drive to set up a 50-yard field goal — Pryor had a chance to lead a rally.
He split out wide left, beat his man as he cut inside to the right and shot his hands up to catch quarterback Kirk Cousins's pass. The ball hit his hands and bounced off. Sure, the pass sailed slightly behind Pryor, but he got both hands on it, and had he done the little things, he could have produced a big gain.
"The ball was back here," Pryor said, holding his hands up by his head, just above his right shoulder, "and as soon as it touched my hands, I didn't really look it in like I normally do. Soon as it touched my hands, I started to run to see if I had a crease. I've got to be a better professional and catch that ball, and I can't let the quarterback and can't let the team down. I did today. It's unfortunate, and I've got to do better."
A two-yard toss and an incompletion followed, and Washington punted. The Eagles responded with a field goal to go up 22-17, and two plays later they returned a fumble for a touchdown to put the game out of reach with 1:38 left to play.
"I can't," Pryor started. "I've got to make that play. . . . Maybe we're not talking here. Maybe we go down the field and score."
Washington got the ball twice more after that failed possession, but coaches didn't send Pryor back onto the field for either series. Instead, second-year pro Josh Doctson, who played sparingly Sunday, took his place. But Doctson — who also is supposed to represent the future at wide receiver for Washington — wasn't targeted on either drive.
The late-game sequence reflected a disappointing day for both wide receivers — and for different reasons. Pryor hasn't proved himself as the sure-handed big target the team needs. And Doctson hasn't earned the coaches' trust after his struggles to stay on the field.
Coach Jay Gruden, who also serves as play-caller, and Cousins indeed worked hard to get Pryor involved in the offense after the wide receiver and the quarterback struggled with timing and chemistry during the preseason.
The first play from scrimmage called for a deep shot to Pryor. But he couldn't locate the ball in the air, first looking over his right shoulder, then turning to look over his left, then back to the right before the ball sailed over his head several yards further upfield.
"I didn't even know it was thrown because I was running up the hash and I was looking this way," Pryor said of the play that had the chance to produce an 84-yard touchdown had he made the catch. "I heard the crowd cheering, so I just knew he was going deep, but I was like, 'Where the hell is the ball?' I couldn't see. It got lost in the sun. So that's what happened."
Later in the first half, Pryor dropped a would-be touchdown — this time from 50 yards out — and in the second half, he failed to track down a pass in the end zone after beating his defender again.
Pryor was targeted a game-high 11 times, but he finished with just six catches for 66 yards and a long of 28.
Doctson, meanwhile, was largely missing in action Sunday. The 2016 first-round pick — finally healthy after missing all but two games last season with Achilles' tendon strains and much of this preseason with hamstring injuries — played just one first-half series, and the ball was never thrown to him. And then he saw limited action on three second-half possessions, but again was never targeted.
"I'm feeling good," Doctson said. "I just have to be available and earn those reps through practice, and it's not just given to me. . . . I know the playbook and stuff. I just have to be out there in practice and earn those reps for games."
Gruden said Doctson's opportunities will come as he earns his coaches' trust. Yes, he possesses the skill-set to thrive as a wide receiver. But first he must prove he can stay on the field.
"We're making sure he's 100 percent healthy and ready to go and can handle practice after practice and game after game. We'll give him more and more reps as the season progresses," Gruden said.
Pryor's struggles and Doctson's relative inactivity served as reminders of how differently things look for the Redskins at wide receiver after five reliable years with Garcon and three big-play seasons from Jackson.
Jackson not only possessed elite speed, but he had the uncanny ability to track the ball in flight while still maintaining that speed. Garcon not only was one of the most durable wide receivers in the game (never missing a game in the past four seasons), but he also was one of the most sure-handed, boasting a catch percentage of .690, which put him among the league leaders.
Garcon and Jackson also had good chemistry with Cousins after playing with him multiple seasons.
Pryor last season owned a low catch percentage of .550, and to improve, he catches 400 balls a day on the JUGS machine. But he and Cousins, despite additional work after practices, still are working to strike a connection like Garcon and Jackson had with the quarterback.
The opportunities were indeed there Sunday. Because of that, the misses proved more painful.
"I can't wait for today to be over and then get to tomorrow and start to work," Pryor said.
But Cousins — who completed only 57.5 percent of his passes Sunday — wouldn't let his receiver shoulder the blame.
"We're all going to walk around and say it's on me. I'm going to say it's on me. Terrelle's going to say it's on me," Cousins said. "It's why we have a good locker room. But it was good to get Terrelle involved today. I felt like he made a lot of big plays for us. But we have to keep working and get it better and better and better because there's a lot of potential there. He knows it. We know it. We just have to bring it out of him and give him the opportunity to be as good as he can possibly be."
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Game summary: Eagles 30, Redskins 17